Kennedy To Run For Governor In 2018
Chris Kennedy is stressing his business background as he announces he will run as a Democrat for Illinois governor in 2018. Kennedy says in a Wednesday morning statement that he's running for governor because he loves Illinois and the state has "never been in worse shape.'' The former University of Illinois Board of Trustees chairman and son of late U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy says state government needs "fundamental change.''
He made the announcement with the launch of a campaign website and annoucement on YouTube. Kennedy's statement highlights his experience running Chicago's Merchandise Mart and the real estate development in downtown Chicago known as Wolf Point, which is backed with more than $1 billion in private financing.
Kennedy says he knows "how an economy is meant to function, not just for the rich, but for members of all communities.''
Kennedy, 53, runs a grocery nonprofit, Top Box Foods. Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar has announced he's seeking the nomination, and other Democrats including billionaire J.B. Pritzker, state Sen. Andy Manar, and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos are considering bids.
The Illinois Republican Party is tying Kennedy's run for governor to the state's House speaker, who is mired in a state's budget impasse.
Illinois Republican Party spokesman Steven Yaffe says Mike Madigan has endorsed Kennedy's run for governor "because he knows that Kennedy will never stand up to him.'' The state GOP already has launched the website MadiganKennedy.com.
Yaffe says Kennedy "last thing Illinois needs is a Madigan lap dog in the governor's office.''
Kennedy says the Illinois' current Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner needs to lead and not blame others such as Madigan for Illinois' problems.
Kennedy is the eighth of 11 children. His campaign video featured footage of his parents and other family members, and Kennedy told The Associated Press he believes Illinois voters "remember fondly the service to this country of the Kennedy family."
"People will know what is in my heart,'' he said. "They will know what my family taught me, they will know my values and my goals, and I think that will set me apart,'' he said.
Kennedy, who lives in the northern Chicago suburb of Kenilworth with his wife and four children, has flirted with running for public office before, including a bid for U.S. Senate, but didn't follow through.
He surfaced as a top contender for governor after he spoke to the Illinois delegation to the Democratic National Convention last summer. Kennedy ripped Rauner's pro-business legislative agenda and blamed him for Illinois' nearly two-year state budget stalemate, saying he's inflicting "suffering and chaos" on Illinois.